Ivan another playtest

Back to Shedquarters, with some real live people. We have been discussing on and off for a month or so at least how this all works once we are back to normal. How people who can visit Shedquarters can do so without losing our non-local contingent and so on.

Phil, Chris K and I discussed this in the car coming back from Partizan, and we decided to give it a go for this Tuesday's game. Chris and Phil would help me by interpreting the orders from the commanders on the screen, and pushing the toys round whilst I umpired.

We were back in Mother Russia, during the dark days of the Revolutionary War. Near the camera the Reds are advancing along the railway line in one direction, whilst the Whites are coming from the opposite end. The Reds have the edge in numbers, and the Whites in quality. Both sides have some armoured cars ("Ooo! Shiny!") and an artillery battery. On the screen we have General Lindski (Richard) in charge of the Whites, and Comrades Willinov and Stevesky commanding the Reds. Jon F and Ian were unable to join us for a variety of reasons.

Will started aggressively by sending a cavalry Regiment to seize the farm. Cue debate about where the horse holders should be when the Regiment dismounts. Note to self to re-read some of my books about this. I'm sure there's something in them about how far back and accessible the horses needed to be.

Steve had moved the Red armoured cars up to support the cavalry in the farm (no picture of this). One of these was a Garford Putilov - the one with the tank gun mounted on the back - and it had a clear shot at the model T Ford MG car accompanying the White cavalry. A direct hit rendered it a smoking heap.

This focussed Richard's mind considerably, and he spent a lot of the game trying to make sure no one could shoot at his armoured cars. This pair are QRF Austin Peerlesses. Some of the most horrible models ever made.

On his right, Richard was sending two infantry battalions to attack the farm . Phil was following his instructions.

I have lost it with the camera. Steve had unlimbered his artillery near the road, and a couple of shots in the direction of the White armoured cars sent them scurrying for cover. Richard meanwhile was sneaking his cavalry up through the wood.

Steve moved one of his cavalry regiments up. Could we be looking at a classic Dr Zhivago moment?

Admittedly without the snow, but could we???

Richard rolled his armoured cars into the wood to back up his cavalry.

On the other flank Richard had deployed his guns and started to shell the farm, where Will had reinforced the cavalry with an infantry column. The White infantry on this flank had deployed into skirmish order.

YES!! Steve launches a charge

Richard counter charges into the hail of machine gun fire from the Tchanka.

The fire support, together with Richard's wretched dice roll, gives the Reds victory.

Keeping his head, having broken the Whites, Steve rallies his cavalry back.

Richard bolsters this flank by bringing up another cavalry regiment.

By the farm, Steve's Austin Putilov commander has a rush of blood to the head, and storms forwards, machine gunning the White Cap battalion.

Richard close assaults Steve's armour with an infantry column that was skulking in the wood, and knocks both of them out for minimal loss (need to look at this -  it may be too easy to do).

That White cavalry in the wood charges Steve's rallying-back Reds in the rear (my mistake, I should have asked Steve if he wanted to about face them).

Steve's cavalry are broken. The Close Assault mechanism gave extreme results pretty much all the way through the game.

To prevent a breakthrough Steve deployed an infantry battalion into line. It was near the end of the turn, and he was gambling on getting the initiative... or had he spotted that Richard's first activation next turn had to be his artillery shelling the farm??

A dramatic view of the full battlefield.

Richard lifted the barrage on the villager, formed up his troops and launched a bayonet charge.

This routed the dismounted cavalry, giving him a toe hold on the edge of the village.

So Steve got to fire first at the cavalry. He ended up with 20 dice basic, with a +6 modifier, giving 32 dice in total (if you don't follow this you need to buy "For Whom the Dice Rolls" for an explanation). This is the highest number on the Combat Dice Modifier table. He rolled d8s, looking for 6+. A fair amount of carnage was inflicted.

Will's infantry in the farm counter attacked Richard's men, and drove them out of the village. They had been unable to consolidate their position and so were vulnerable to counter attack. However...

Richard now had three activations to sort out the red cap regiment, and send them in.

Will's men had also not been able to consolidate, and were driven out of the position.

Steve delivered another round of fire. This overloaded all of the  bases in the cavalry regiment, destroying them. First time that mechanism has come into play during the testing of these and FWTDR.

To relieve pressure on his centre, Will launched a cavalry charge at Richard's troops who had been driven out of the farm. They were hacked to pieces.

However, the cavalry were caught in a hail of MG fire from the White armoured cars.

It rather reduced Will's numbers. He did launch a final charge, but it didn't go well.

And there we had to leave it. The Whites were probably in the stronger position, although the Reds had three infantry battalions that sat on their baseline and never moved.

Thoughts? Compared to the previous game players were a little less gung-ho about driving units forwards that failed a "NYET/DA!" test. This slowed Richard's advance, as some of his units stopped moving. Having said that he shared the command cards round, so he got more units into the game. The Reds overrode a NYET! once (you can see the Coercion marker in the last picture), which did enable them to make the last cavalry charge. 

It has been a while since we played FWTDR, and some of the early player driven problems returned. Lots of occasions where units were pushed a long way forwards without a command in reserve. This makes them very vulnerable if the opponent can counter attack. Otherwise the system held up. There are a few places I need to put in some work, and I need to start looking at the Armoured Train system too (useful post game discussion on this subject). I also need to think hard about the use of tanks and trench scenarios. The RCW had a lot of open warfare - like we have had in these two games - and also some battles that look like Western Front WW1, with tanks crunching over barbed wire. That may need to be an appendix to the rules, as some of the elements I want for the mobile period will need to be changed. Heavy armour had to be delivered by train to a dropping off point close to the battle, as it did on the Western Front, so that will need some thought. As well the inevitable Interventionist forces.

But Ivan is coming along nicely, I think.

And it was great to have Phil & Chris back in Shedquarters.


  1. Looks like a barn-burner. Were Chris and Phil active players or simply troop movers? How much burden was lifted from your shoulders by their assistance? Your table looks smaller. Did you reduce table size for this action?

    Good stuff. Thank you.

    1. There was a lot going on. Chris and Phil interpreted the instructions and moved the figures, so they weren't actively playing as in making decisions. It was a real help as it meant I wasn't running from side to side all evening. The table is the same size, but the game was played end to end, so narrower than normal, but longer.

  2. Do you think that there would there be interest in going a step further with a mix of in-person and remote players such that the latter are the overall commanders and the former are the lower-level ones? Like we sometimes do in multi-player games where players represent different levels in the command hierarchy? Being remote could add to the detachment of the army commander, but a bit more 'there' than being shut in a separate room with only maps and written communications!
    Regards, James

    1. That may well be the next step. the important thing is for everyone to have something to do. If we have too much decision making in Shedquarters the remote players may get left out.

  3. An interesting game and of a period that I'm thinking of playing using BKCII as the core engine. I was given the 'heads up' on the following site that has loads of useful info alongside the excellent Osprey books:


    1. Mark Plant's website is a superb reference source. I shall be using it. I haven't played BKCII, so I can't comment on the applicability of the engine. I'm using FWTDR as a starting point as the command and control system will give me some key things I want with some simple changes. The combat system is also shaping up well for cavalry combat, which is really important in the Don River Sector.

  4. Great game, colleagues, congratulations! Beautiful shapes, terrain and design! Bravo! Photos from the game, with close-ups, are simply gorgeous!

    1. Thanks! Great to have praise from an actual Russian. Just need to work out how to make it snowy now.

    2. We used a synthetic winterizer, it costs a penny and green trees and pines.

    3. "Synthetic winterizer"?? What is that?

    4. Yes, this is a synthetic winterizer material for insulating jackets. In Russian, it has one meaning. You can watch the game of the Battle of Fraustadt 1706 for July 12, 2020 on my blog to have an idea. Sincerely.

    5. That does look good, even with the troops on green bases. Hmmm.....I wonder what it is called in England, and can I buy a roll of it...

    6. Insulation - polyester. It comes in different thicknesses. I took a thin one, about a cm, so that the surface of the table was slightly translucent and it comfortably wrapped the hills pushed under it, forming snowdrifts. The disadvantage is that the bases of the units do not slide on this surface.

    7. Of course. I shall keep an eye out.

  5. Offside view of the game here:


    Phil and I were just croupiers, Jon, pushing the pieces over the baize.

    Regards, Chris.

    1. I think you both had a valuable role in optimising the effectiveness of the instructions given.


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